And So It Begins...
Ten days passed and Father growing more and more peeved that Vincent had not thought to visit with him on his return to the hub was reminded by Catherine that he had less to worry about than she did. Sitting around the brazier hot mugs of cocoa in their hands, Catherine finally revealed to the tunnel patriarch just what her problem was. “I would never have taken Vincent to be the kind of man to cut and run, Father. But that is simply what he did. We made love and he ran, literally, ran, without any explanation as to why he should. Can you imagine how that made me feel?”
Father almost dropped his mug of cocoa into his lap, he stared at Catherine, “You mean he came here and…he what…he made love with you and left again? Catherine that’s awful!” All manner of expressions chased across Father’s face, the last one caused Catherine to chuckle even though she felt upset, he looked as though he were dealing with a spoilt child that knew no manners and his words confirmed it, “My dear, I’m so sorry. I will have more than enough to say to him when I do clap eyes on him, I can hardly believe what you are telling me.”
“Well its true, and of course that gives rise to yet another question, did it happen again?”
Father’s eyebrows rose in question, and Catherine enlightened him just as dawning became apparent in his eyes, “Yes Father, I could be pregnant again. Can you believe it huh? Here I am supposedly a career woman with one baby already possibly another on the way and a lover that disappears into thin air totally missing all the action in-between and without even a question as to my state of health or even that of his son.”
“Well with all due respect Catherine, he might not know about the baby.”
“He does, he knows full well about the baby, he made reference to him several times, but not once did he enquire as to his son’s welfare.”
“Perhaps you should not have presumed he would, perhaps you should have reminded him of his obligations and told him about his son.”
Catherine sighed, whose side was Father on anyway? From where she was standing it looked very much like Vincent got his vote. Men, typical, pulled together even when one of them was making a serious mistake and the other knew it even so she replied, “Women are strange creatures Father.” Catherine was annoyed to see him nod at that and could have hit him for agreeing, but went on quietly fuming instead, “We never tell our men folk anything that might tie them to us until we are satisfied that they want us for who we are, and not for what we have given them. Or in this case, I would never tell Vincent about his son until I am certain that he wouldn’t use a child to tie himself to me, when he would rather not be with me at all. What woman wants that? She would just be used, however, the fact remains the same I feel used even so.”
“What do you propose doing about it?” Father surprised her by asking.
“Do? What can I do? I know what I’d like to do. I’d like to tramp down there and drag him back screaming and kicking by his hair, that’s what I would like to do, just who does he think he is treating me like that!” Catherine rose from her chair hands on table, glaring down at Father, her hair falling forward her eyes flashing fire. Father decided he wouldn’t want to be in his son’s shoes when she caught up with him that was for sure.
“Well that’s out of the question, or at least until you get the results of the test. If it proves negative you can do all the tramping to the lower levels that you want, only I suggest that you do not go alone. I’m sure Dominic would accompany you, or maybe Mouse would go.”
Noticing Catherine frown at the mention of Dominic’s name, Father grew curious, “What’s the matter, don’t tell me you are at odds with Vincent’s brother too now?”
“No, not really it was something Vincent said that’s all. And Vincent was usually right about things in the past, he might just have something there too, at any rate, I think Mouse would be the better one of the two to escort me down there, as if I need anyone at all. Jamie would be as good a companion as any, after all what’s down there that’s so frightening anyway? With Paracelsus gone, there is no danger of the human element anymore, and Vincent though he needs clowning, is not a danger to me or anyone.”
“I would have been inclined to disagree, but since you tamed the very beast himself, I cannot use that argument, Catherine. Just get the test done and take it from there, and if it does prove negative would you take some advice?”
Catherine was one step ahead of him, “Use some contraception? Just what I was thinking, at this rate I’m going to feel like the old lady that lived in a shoe.”
“Having so many children that she didn’t know what to do, hum, well yes my dear, you could have a point there.” Catherine noticed Father’s eyes were twinkling with mischief and she told him seriously, “Its nothing to laugh at. I know you are happy we have little Vincent, and would probably be over the moon if I kept producing more like him, but what about me? Elliot’s working on a closer brownstone as we speak, but really Father trying to live two different lives is very time consuming, not to mention exhausting, and with no man around to boot either, I get lonely too you know?”
“Yes, forgive me I’m sure you must.” Sighing deeply, Father went on, “Its so unlike Vincent though, is it not? Why he left again is simply a mystery. Whatever he thought of heaven knows, but we must find him and get to the bottom of it the sooner the better. He can’t be living too well by himself, and he has obviously got a hold of the wrong end of the stick somewhere. Look, leave it with me, Mouse know these tunnels better than anyone, I’ll have him see if he can find Vincent. Lord he might even know where he is already.”
Nodding Catherine agreed, “Thank you Father. Right then I’ll be going now. I’ll be back before the weekend if I have any news, and likewise you’ll get a message to me if you hear anything?”
Father agreed, and they parted company with a kiss to one another’s cheek. It was all they seemed to be doing these days, giving one another goodbye kisses, but until Catherine had someone to stop below for, she simply needed to live above.
Stepping out of Father’s chamber Catherine ran into Dominic, he had the same disconcerting way of appearing out of the blue just as his brother had, but Catherine got the distinct impression that he had been eavesdropping on her conversation with Father. It made her feel uneasy. He made her feel uneasy, ever since Vincent had surmised that his brother was in love with her, something she had failed to mention to Father.
“Catherine. Hello. Are you well?” Dominic issued the customary greeting for tunnel dwellers.
“Yes thank you, but you will have to excuse me, Dominic I am going back above and have already stayed longer than I intended.”
Dominic sidestepped to let her pass but she stopped dead when he commented, “I must say you look positively radiant at the moment, blossoming in actual fact.”
Catherine regarded him coolly, what did he know? It was the sort of comment to make of someone expecting a baby. However she replied “thank you.” And endeavoured to walk on by. Dominic caught her arm, “Do you think Vincent will be back soon?”
“I don’t know. Dominic like I told you three days ago, I have no idea when Vincent will be back.” She sounded exasperated yet he grinned at her, either ignoring the fact that she was in a hurry or stalling her for reasons of his own. “I’ve been wondering about the wedding you asked me to attend with you, what should I wear? I do not have any social clothes neither do I have the money to buy any. It’s been a constant worry to me knowing how best to compliment you at the wedding of your friends.” A shiver ran through Catherine. It wasn’t what he said, which was question enough, it was the way he said it and the way he looked at her, his gaze running up and down her body from head to toe and back again, as if he was undressing her with his eyes. A little flustered and intent on escaping as quickly as possible, Catherine blurted, ”Don’t worry, Dominic, I’m sure I can buy you a suit, shirt and tie for the occasion. Only not today, today I must dash, I’m already late.” For a moment Catherine thought he would delay her some more, but he stood to one side and allowed her to go. He said not a word, neither thank you, goodbye or be well. And even as Catherine threaded her way through the tunnel she could feel his eyes boring into her back and it made her walk even faster until she felt she had escaped his sight.
Stepping into Father’s chamber Dominic made it to the recently vacated chair by Catherine and struck up conversation with the old man. “Saw Catherine outside, such a nice lady, Catherine.”
Father agreed, “Yes she is. Everyone here loves her, and she them and my son is a blind fool if he cannot see what is before his own eyes.”
“That being?” Dominic asked quirking an eyebrow.
“That Catherine loves him! Vincent needs to come back and sort his life out. If he takes any longer about deciding what it is he actually wants I fear that Catherine and his children will leave here for good, and who can blame her for that? Sorry, did you say something?”
“I was surprised that’s all, you mentioned children and not child, is there something I don’t know?” Dominic smiled knowingly.
“I shouldn’t say anything, it’s not concrete yet. But Catherine may be with child again.”
“Is she really?” Father gazed at Dominic long and hard, it was the way he said that, almost drawled and the faraway look in his eyes caused Father to wonder what he was thinking. At any rate, whatever it was Father instantly regretted having confided in Dominic about the possibility of another baby.
“Well, I must be going.” Dominic rose, “Things to do, you know how it is?” Father nodded and bid the younger man ‘be well’ as he exited the chamber. It was only after he had gone that Father realised that Dominic hadn’t exactly gone there for any reason. In fact it was almost as if he had sought him out to have something verified without literally asking. It rankled Father to know what was on Dominic’s mind, he’d seemed very distracted for the last few days, in fact ever since Vincent had visited and he couldn’t put his finger on it, but it appeared that Dominic was planning something, and something that might prove detrimental to someone, but whom? That was the ultimate question who did Dominic have in mind?
Outside in the tunnel, Dominic smiled smugly to himself. Just a little while then and he would have his retribution. His brother’s foolhardiness was making it all too easy and Dominic could hardly believe in his good fortune. Of course falling in love had complicated matters a little but he would get around that eventually and see it as an added bonus, especially if he could prove to Catherine just how nice he could be, and just how much more he could surpass everything that his brother was renowned for. He knew that Catherine was impressed by his near normal features, and how much he resembled his brother in other ways, so with a bit of luck and a great deal of cunning he shouldn’t find it too difficult to win her over to his side and steal her right from under his stupid brother’s nose. For Vincent was stupid, Dominic decided and gullible to believe any little hint and especially if that hint had the initials EB. For as long as Dominic could continue to drop those subtle little hints he knew Vincent would likely stay away from the hub. Dominic chuckled, and placing fresh bread, meat, cookies, cheese and a flask of tea into his pack, Dominic swung it over one shoulder. It had been three days since he had last taken refreshments to his brother. Whistling a tune Dominic strode from the chamber, encountering no one as he made the journey to the lower levels and ultimately to his goal, the cave where his brother had been living for the last ten days.
*** *** ***
He’d read the book before and it held no joy for him. Vincent lay it down at his side and with his head thrust back against the wall of the cave he closed his eyes and tried to shut out the memories that kept forming before him whether awake or asleep. Yet, no matter how hard he tried he could not stop hearing the thudding of his heart or the singing of that other that thudded gently next to it. It had been that disconcerting heartbeat that had sent him back to the hub some ten days earlier yet even so he had to remind himself that seeing Catherine when he had, had been a great surprise because the connection he had with her told him that she was in a completely different direction to the one that he had found her in. And that conversation! The one he had overheard between his brother and Catherine had left him reeling. Of course, Dominic had explained it since, had even laughed at his suggestion that he was falling in love with Catherine, and had made him see quite forcefully that the only one Catherine was interested in was the man she was going to marry, Dominic had not needed to say who that would be, it was obvious. The man’s name had come up often during the course of that conversation and had been the main reason that he had acted so irrationally, and snatched Catherine away intent on holding her somewhere until she forgot all about Elliot Burch for ever.
Even so…Vincent scratched at his head in a gesture of confusion, there were so many contradictions. Catherine had told him that she loved him, and what she had done…Oh! Vincent tingled at the memory of the things she had done to him and became shamefully aroused at the thought. How could a woman, who was about to marry another love a different man in such a way, and a man more different than any could get, at that?
It didn’t add up even with Dominic’s suggestion that Catherine was probably just one of those woman who found it exciting to have more than one man interested in her, and if Elliot Burch so obviously thought little of infidelity, perhaps Catherine did too. Perhaps that was the way of their relationship. Maybe it was a marriage of convenience, where money led, and with little love between them each sought out other relationships as they wished. But it wasn’t the Catherine he had known, nor the one that had been willing to sacrifice everything to marry Elliot Burch in order to save the tunnels and ultimately his life. Vincent couldn’t make head or tail of it, neither was he happy with any suggestion that Dominic had made and if Dominic hadn’t adamantly denied any feelings for Catherine, Vincent might have surmised that his brother was just another fly in the ointment with his own particular brand of knife to wield. But he had been adamant and he had been the only one that Vincent had been able to rely on these last ten days, when having followed his brother in his trail of destruction to the lower levels, (where Vincent had beat himself relentlessly against the tunnel walls never even feeling the pain) then Vincent knew that he might just have well of starved to death, since he had not the inclination or the enthusiasm to go and seek his own nourishment wanting little more than to wither away with the misery that engulfed him. Catherine professed to love him, yet she had born a child to another man, and even as they made love a second time she had contemplated marriage to that same man.
“I am a fool!” Vincent cried out loud, and his words were met by an answering one of similar tone that was not an echo, “You said it, dear brother.” Dominic paused, it was one of those moments when one said something witty and instantly regretted doing so. One of those times when it would go down like a lead balloon, yet at the same time all manner of questions would arise from it. “Why do you say that?” Vincent wanted to know at once, “I thought you agreed it is best that I remain here? Are you now disputing that fact?”
Dominic sought his mind furiously for a possible reason for the remark without letting his brother know that he did indeed term him a fool, a stupid blind fool. “I meant that you are a fool not to have heard my approach. I could have been anyone, Vincent!”
His exclamation had the required effect, “I have no one to fear. Outsiders rarely come down this far.”
“Even so you did not hear my approach, I could have been anyone and it may have proved detrimental to you.” Dominic swung his pack from his shoulder and started depositing his wares onto the sandy floor.
“And what if anyone did come? My life is over, I may as well welcome any intruder that would wish to harm me.” Vincent told his brother bitterly.
“Don’t say that. While there is hope there is life.”
“You got that wrong, it should be while there is life there is hope.”
“Whatever. Now look, I can’t stay long, so how have you been? I’ve bought you some supplies and another blanket since you said you were cold last time, and there’s some hot tea in the flask, though of course it won’t stay hot till I can come again. Oh and there are a couple of new books and I brought one of your half finished journals and a few pens.”
“Thank you Dominic, you are very kind.”
“What are brothers for? You’re welcome. Now did you want me to fill you in on what’s been happening back at the hub?” Dominic hoped to rub some more salt in already open wounds.
Cautiously Vincent nodded, he greatly feared and craved news of the hub and his family. He had chosen to reside a long way from Narcissa, for strangely she had told him not to reveal to anyone that she had survived her death and so he had seen no one but his brother for the last ten days.
“Well, Catherine has just left.” Dominic went straight for the jugular, paused for effect and satisfied to see his brother’s eyes roll, he went on, “She was in a hurry to get back above. Did I tell you that she has asked me to be a guest at the wedding?”
Vincent froze. “No.”
“Didn’t I? Must have slipped my mind with all the other things, anyway, she says she will buy me some clothes so that I do not feel out of place, a suit a shirt and tie she said. I can hardly wait, I have never worn anything but tunnel togs. Oh and by the way, she and Father were discussing the possibility of her coming down here to find you and being accompanied by either myself or Mouse however, those particular plans are on hold until Catherine has had the tests done.”
“Tests?” Vincent regarded his brother with bewilderment.
“Yes, that’s what they said. I must admit I was eavesdropping, Vincent, so I didn’t catch what they were talking about specifically, but when I had a conversation with Father after Catherine had left he mentioned Catherine and children in the plural so one can only assume…”
“Catherine’s pregnant?” Eyes wide-open Vincent spoke the words slowly and with great disbelief.
“Apparently.” Dominic spoke innocently and started piling up the things he had brought as if what he had said was inconsequential, by the by and hadn’t just turned his brother’s world upside down, which he knew exactly he had and loved the fact of it almost to the point of jumping for joy. Restraining himself he straightened from his labours and asked, “How long does one have to be gone before a test can reveal anything like that do you know?” Vincent did know. He’d assisted Father with pregnant women for years yet not being familiar with new technology and testing kits that could be used the morning after conception he told his brother, “At least a month, two to be sure.” His mind was in overdrive…Catherine was pregnant again…with Elliot’s child again…and they had made love while she carried another man’s child? Vincent felt sick. Nausea grabbed his throat and he scrambled to his feet got up and ran to the nearest corner of convenience out of his brother’s sight. While he was gone, Dominic beamed, totally satisfied with his little game, he congratulated himself on how easy it had been. Vincent believed that Catherine was carrying Elliot’s child again, and with that thought firmly established Vincent would likely give her a wide berth and that would so help the rest of his plan.
“Vincent?” Dominic enquired at length, “You alright? Was it something you ate? Did you eat all of that fat ham quickly last time like I suggested?” Vincent said nothing, just continued to retch out of sight.
“I have to go now, Vincent. If you are sure you are all right? I’ll try to come back in another three days, okay?”
Silence met Dominic’s ears but he knew his brother had heard him, and so swinging the empty pack back onto his shoulder Dominic called out be well, and went along his way. He refrained from laughing until he knew he was well out of earshot and then he positively let rip. He laughed and laughed all the way back to the hub, and Mary encountering him on his way back reported to Father that Dominic had so settled into his new home if his cheery disposition was anything to go by. Father readily agreed, however if he had truly known what Dominic’s devious thoughts were about he would surely have had another heart attack.
*** *** ***
There was no reason for Catherine to return before the weekend, she wasn’t pregnant and though she was happy about that she wasn’t certain of Father’s response to her news, whether he would consider it good or bad. So it was with some trepidation that she entered the tunnels at the start of the weekend with little Vincent tucked into a baby harness that she had strapped to her chest. It beat carrying him on one hip as he was growing quiet heavy and she could look into his dear little kitten face as she walked along with him. “Hello you,” she kissed his flat cherub nose and laughed when he squirmed as her hair tickled his face. A small fist found its way from beneath the folds of the shawl wrapped around him and he waved it in front of her face. “I love you sweetheart, do you know that?” Catherine kissed his brow inhaling the glorious baby scent that she had grown to love above anything else. Little Vincent smiled his own unique brand of a smile for his mother and Catherine’s heart was overwhelmed with love for him. How perfect he was, how like his father his sweet leonine face and china blue eyes. Sadness washed over Catherine swift and sudden and tears brimmed in her eyes. Everything was all so tragic and she had no way of knowing what the future held for her and Vincent. It pained her to even think about what he must have been thinking to up and leave her so soon after making love to her and telling her how much he loved her. It was something Catherine just could not get her head around and it was all such a mystery.
Reaching the hub at last, Catherine frowned when the first person she encountered was Dominic. He leaned up one tunnel wall as if he had been expecting someone to come around that final bend at any moment, and Catherine felt a flutter of apprehension run through her when she knew he had to have been waiting for her, since the sentries would have announced her arrival into the tunnels. “Hello Dominic,” Catherine greeted him as merrily as she could. His face lit up at her cheery greeting and he fell into step alongside her, though that part of the tunnels was hardly wide enough for one. He seemed to like that though, their hips rubbing as they walked, and Catherine felt certain that he deliberately leaned toward her more than he ought. Still trying to keep to the light approach Catherine asked him, “How have you been?”
“Good.” Dominic replied without elaborating further.
“Is everyone well?” Catherine had the distinct impression that Dominic’s mind was anywhere but his present position, even though he appeared glad of her arrival.
“As well as can be expected.” Dominic replied again in that flat expressionless tone that had the hairs at the back of Catherine’s neck tingling as they began to rise.
Catherine walked a little faster without trying to appear that she intended to do so, and they had almost reached Father’s chamber when Dominic told her softly, “Catherine, I think I know where Vincent is.” Astounded, Catherine stopped walking and stared at Dominic, their faces in the small tunnel close but not quite touching. Again Catherine was stunned by the blue of his eyes, so like those of his brother’s and the mannerism he had of inclining his head and allowing his hair to fall forward in such an appealing way that her heart turned somersaults.
“Do you?” Catherine could hardly breathe. Dominic nodded, then to Catherine’s amazement took hold of her arm and steered her away from the entrance to Father’s chamber and out of earshot from any within explained, “I haven’t told anyone else. Its just a suspicion, I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case I am wrong.”
“Have you seen him?” Catherine asked stupidly telling herself such since had he seen Vincent he would be sure of his facts.
For a moment Catherine was left with the impression that Dominic was in two minds as to what to say, until finally he told her, “Yes, and spoken with him.”
“You have! How is he? Did he tell you why he ran out on me?” Catherine asked excitedly.
“He’s as well as to be expected, I’ve left him the odd pack of refreshments. He isn’t far would you like me to take you to him?” Alarm bells sounded in Catherine’s head and little Vincent face puckered up as he began to cry. Mouth open wide Catherine suddenly made the startling discovery that her son had a connection with her. He had known of her mistrust and had acted upon it.
“What’s the matter with him?” Dominic asked, “Can’t you shut him up!” Surprised Catherine backed away, and Dominic may have reached out to hold her still, but at that moment the baby’s cries brought Father to his entrance and looking out caught sight of the two of them standing a few yards further down the tunnel. “Catherine!” Father cried overjoyed to see her, “When the sentries announced your arrival and you didn’t show I assumed that half the community had waylaid you on the way in. So how is my little grandson today?” A rush of relief flew through Catherine and leaving Dominic’s side she made her way quickly toward the patriarch of the tunnels, genuinely pleased to see him. “Father, how are you? Well I hope. Yes I was waylaid, by Dominic actually, and we were just talking before I came to see you next.” With Dominic close by Catherine was not about to tell Father what had really been on her mind. There was just too much of Paracelsus in that particular son she decided, and she was happy that Father had unwittingly rescued her from him when he had.
Still walking into the chamber afforded her no escape as Dominic followed her in and without being asked took up the seat that Vincent had once used and would usually be offered to Catherine. Father did not seem to notice as his attention was taken up with his grandson, but the action was not lost on Catherine and little Vincent still living off the vibes coming from his mother looked at Father warily his lips beginning to quiver indicating he would soon cry. “There, there, little one.” Father soothed, “You remember me don’t you? I’m the grouchy old one that loves you to bits.” Catherine smiled, and stole a glance in Dominic’s direction. What she saw gave her rise for concern, that look upon his face…it was Paracelsus all over again. Paracelsus looking straight at Father with the babe in his arms, a look that said ‘jealousy’ and it frightened Catherine to death. Something was awfully amiss, she knew it, but without actually making a scene and confronting Dominic head on, she could hardly accuse him of anything when as far as Father was concerned Dominic just sat in Vincent’s old chair and enjoyed the scene of a grandfather enjoying his baby grandson’s company.
Catherine had an idea, “Dominic was just telling me that he knows where Vincent is.” Dominic’s head swung round and he glared at her as Father remarked, “You do? But that’s marvellous, why didn’t you tell me? How long have you known? Have you seen him?” Recovering quickly yet sending a look Catherine’s way that was anything but friendly, Dominic replied, “I said I think I know where he is, I’m not certain.”
“But you’ve spoken with him, you said so.” Catherine told him sweetly. Whatever game Dominic was playing he wasn’t going to play it with her, that was for sure.
“Have you?” Father asked jubilant, “When?”
“Yesterday? And you never told me!” Father replied indignantly.
“There hasn’t been time.” Dominic replied shifting his large frame around in the chair so that he might look straight at Catherine and dare her to say another thing. His eyes seemed to say, I told you in confidence how dare you tell him? Catherine just looked smug and laughed to herself. She had little intention of keeping secrets in the tunnels especially ones this important.
“Last night when we played chess you could have told me then.” Father replied accusingly. “We even chatted about Vincent, I told you how I missed him, how I fretted for his well being, and you did not even whisper that you knew he was well. That is I take it he is well?”
“Yes, and I’m sorry but I promised him I would tell no one of his whereabouts. It is his decision to stay away, you have to understand that.”
Catherine launched another attack, “Even so, ten minutes ago you were willing to take me to him.”
“You are different. Vincent would want to see you.” Dominic shifted again, this time uncomfortably. He’d heard about Catherine Chandler’s line of questioning, she was quick and sharp and on the ball.
“Even so, if he would wish to see me, why is he hiding away from me at all? It doesn’t make sense. Tell you what, why don’t you go down and tell him to come up and see me. I shall be here all weekend.”
“Good idea!” Father exclaimed, “Better still take Mouse with you, Vincent I am sure will be delighted to see his old friend, and it will do Mouse the world of good. That boy hasn’t smiled since Jamie returned.”
“No!” Catherine exclaimed. She could not explain her refusal for Mouse to accompany Dominic, only that Father’s suggestion had brought a big smile to Dominic’s face, and something told her that it would be dangerous for Mouse to go with him.
Father looked at her strangely as did Dominic, but the difference in their gazes was one of puzzlement and the other of downright annoyance. “I don’t mind taking Mouse with me, if he’ll come.” Dominic told Father then to Catherine directed the question, “Why would you be against such a thing, Catherine?”
Flustered, Catherine wished Dominic would go and leave her and Father to chat at peace, but she felt that was highly unlikely. Dominic had a reason for whatever game he was playing and part of his plans was to keep between herself and Father as much as he could, that was for certain. “Mouse doesn’t know you very well, and he is a loner, its possible he knows where Vincent is already.” They all knew the impossibility of that. Mouse was useless at keeping secrets unless they concerned something he had done, and he would be too excited to keep the news of Vincent’s whereabouts to himself. It was a weak argument and Dominic knew it but it was enough to convince him that Catherine was suspicious of his motives for agreeing to take the young man Mouse down to see Vincent. “It doesn’t matter. In all fairness I should seek Vincent out first, ask his opinion on visitors.” Dominic got out of that one easily enough and Father agreed to Catherine’s satisfaction. She knew that she would have time to warn Mouse and any of the others, to give Dominic a wide berth and to go nowhere with him no matter how sweetly he invited. And that reminded Catherine of something else, “By the way Dominic, my friends are getting married next weekend. If you can make time in the week we should find your attire for the occasion, unless you would rather go by yourself.” Catherine crossed her fingers and prayed, but Dominic shook his head, “I have no idea where to look and as I said before no money to call my own.”
“I’ve been looking into that.” Catherine surprised him as she fished into her purse, “You’ll be delighted to know that your father left you very wealthy. I have here details of the safety deposit box where he kept his gold bars and I took the liberty of having his funds released to you just as soon as you can go above and stake your claim. You will need some identification of course, and as I knew that would be a little difficult I took a leaf out of Devin’s book and arranged a few documents that will be ready for collection on Monday.” Catherine winked at Father, who exclaimed, “Catherine, you didn’t!” Catherine chuckled, “Well its not as if he isn’t Paracelsus’s son is it, he just needed documentation to claim what is rightfully his.”
“And Vincent’s.” Dominic reminded her as if he needed to, then added “Whose Devin?”
“To answer you first question,” Catherine told him, “Vincent is unlikely to ever be able to go above and stake his claim on Paracelsus’s treasure, though if you wish you can bring half to him here, and as to your second question…Father?” Catherine appealed to the older man.
“Devin is my other son. My natural son, he lives above and visits rarely.”
“Oh.” Dominic was a little peeved that no one had felt fit to tell him of this brother’s existence before. “How old is he?”
“Four years your senior. He and Vincent are very close.” Father told Dominic sincerely, his eyes misting over as he remembered some of the boys' escapades from the past. He would never have said it then but now he found he could, those were truly the days. Days that would not come again, unless…his eyes lit up…”Catherine have you any news for me?” The question was completely lost on Dominic and Catherine reluctant to answer shook her head hoping that Father would not elaborate. He didn’t, “Oh.” Was all he said and the sadness that etched across his face was unmistakable.
“Something I should know about?” Dominic asked rudely.
For once Father detected the other man’s nosiness and both he and Catherine snapped together, “No!”
Quietly Dominic fumed. How dare they keep things from him? Whatever the news had been that Father had expected he had been in great anticipation of it and had been obviously very sad when none was forthcoming. It infuriated Dominic not to know what it was.
“Well dear I expect you are eager to rest and Mary I am sure will be delighted to see this little one, so if you do not mind I will go visit with her now. I believe the guest chamber is ready for your stay, will I see you at dinner, or shall I have William bring a tray to you?”
“Actually Father” Catherine stood with him, “I’d like to visit Mary myself. I’ll come with you.” Then making it plain that he was dismissed Catherine turned to Dominic and as sweetly as she could muster told him, “We’ll see you at dinner will we Dominic?”
With a curt nod, Dominic rose and strode out of the chamber, causing Father to look after him with a bemused look on his face, “My!” He exclaimed, “Lord knows what’s got into that one, he was alright until you arrived. You haven’t had words have you?”
Catherine didn’t like to say neither was she certain that Dominic had really left, so she did the only thing open to her. Pushing Father back into his chair she took a sheet of paper and began writing in front of him a note that said, “Say nothing as I write this. Just read. Father, I’m concerned about Dominic and afraid. Try not to trust him as much as you do, there is something not quite right but I cannot explain what it is. Just believe me when I say that he worries me.”
Reading the note Father looked up at Catherine and found that she was deadly serious, her eyes spoke of her concern and her face was pinched with worry. Father picked up the pen, and hastily wrote, “Alright my dear, I have no reason to disbelieve you and though he's acted a little odd at times I have seen nothing to make me mistrust him…yet.” He looked up at Catherine and saw her nod, then she took the sheet of paper and screwing it into a ball threw it into the rubbish bin just to one side of Father’s desk then together they rose, Catherine helping the old man to his feet and helping him from the other exit of his chamber, the one that would take them via Vincent’s chamber toward Mary’s.
A few minutes after they had gone, Dominic re-entered the chamber picked up the note from the bin, read it and screwing it back up again, tossed it into the bin with such ferocity that it knocked the plastic bin right over onto its side. Then and only then did he stride from the chamber and exit the tunnel completely. He was headed where only he knew and with a mind filled with animosity and deviousness.
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To be continued in Chapter Sixteen